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Turkey says calm must return to Kabul for final decision on operating civilian flights

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that calm should be restored in Kabul before a decision can be made on running the airport for civilian flights.

"The Taliban have made a request regarding the operation of the Kabul airport. They say, 'We'll ensure security and you can operate it'. But we have not made a decision yet because there is always a possibility of death and such things there," Erdogan said at news conference in Istanbul.

He said there was a risk of getting "sucked in" to something that would be hard to explain given uncertainty around the possible mission, according to a Reuters report.

Germany has also been holding discussions with Turkey on whether it could lead a “civilian only” airlift of people to be evacuated from Kabul after US forces leave, according to leading UK daily The Guardian. 

Also read:  US braces for more attacks at Kabul airport, ready to use air power

However, the situation has taken a change for the worse twin suicide bombings at the Kabul airport in which 103 people were killed including 11 US marines and a medic. Over 100 people were also injured in the explosions.

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, has blamed the ISIS terrorist group for the attacks and warned that the threat of more attacks is “extremely real.”

 “We expect those attacks to continue, and we’re doing everything we can to prepare for those attacks,” he said at a press conference.

He said the mission to fly out American citizens and at-risk Afghans from Kabul airport would continue undeterred by the twin bombings

However, NATO forces are winding up their evacuation missions from Afghanistan ahead of the August 31 deadline set by the US for troop withdrawal. While some EU countries announced their last flights on Thursday five days ahead of the deadline, Britain said on Friday that it plans to complete its evacuations out of Afghanistan "in a matter of hours."

France has also announced that it will end its evacuation operations from Kabul on Friday. 

The decisions appear to have been taken in view the sharp deterioration in the security situation at Kabul.

According to Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW), the Netherlands said it will carry out its last evacuation flight from Kabul on Thursday. 

Denmark said its last flight carrying troops and diplomats had already left Kabul's airport.

Poland and Belgium have already ended their evacuations and withdrawn all military personnel from Afghanistan.

Hungary said its army had evacuated all Hungarian citizens from Afghanistan.

The DW report said the German military has completed its airlift operations from Kabul airport.

Earlier before the blasts took place, a spokesperson for the German Defence Ministry had told DW that the security situation at the Kabul airport had “deteriorated further and the threat of a terror attack is becoming increasingly concrete."